New moms: here’s the ultimate mom to be guide. Everything you need to know about pregnancy, labor, and welcoming your baby home. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
Many women enter pregnancy having no idea what to expect. Their only experience with labor are the comical or scary portrayals they might see in the movies. Some might feel overwhelmed, leery or worried they might miss something. Others might dread delivery day so much, afraid of the pain and how to cope with caring for a newborn.
What does a newborn baby need? Enter Queenie Best (yes, that’s her real name!). She’s that friend. The one who’ll type up a Word document and pass them out to her pregnant girlfriends.
And I’m thankful Queenie is sharing that document with us here on SSBE. Many of you already have kids, while others are expecting more or are brand new moms-to-be. I hope you find Queenie’s ultimate mom to be guide as thorough and useful as I did.
The ultimate mom to be guide
Survival tips during your pregnancy
Buy air sick bags.
You’ll be nauseous at the most inconvenient time and place. I bought these after running out of bags I took from airplanes.
Keep saltines and a water bottle by your bedside.
Salted crackers do wonders when you feel like you want to throw up.
Keep snacks in your purse.
Snacks like granola bars are helpful when you’re on the move and you suddenly want to snack.
If you can’t sleep, get up!
Read, watch television, or write in your journal. Don’t try too hard to fall asleep if sleep doesn’t happening naturally. Stop looking at the clock. You’ll worry yourself into not sleeping at all versus losing an hour.
Don’t buy too many maternity cloths unless you can’t fit into your current clothes.
It’s better to stretch out the clothes you already have and buy new ones down the line. This way you can make the most out of your tops while still looking stylish.
Wear comfortable shoes.
You’ll wear sneakers or flip flops in your third trimester when fashion is the least of your worries. Break them in now! Be careful not to buy fitted shoes—your feet will swell up and you won’t be able to wear them. (I bought a pair of Toms when I was 8 months along and only wore them for a few days before they were too tight. They fit again 6 weeks post-delivery.)
I didn’t understand why women said they missed being pregnant, but I get it now. There’s something special about having a baby inside you. She’s so safe and protected in your belly, and seeing and feeling her kicks made me smile each time.
Plus, everyone is so nice! Strangers will open doors, offer their seats, let you cut in lines. Take advantage! Get a pregnancy massage.
Sign up for freebies.
Companies will send you gift packages and coupons so you can experiment on what brands you like.
Write a simple birth plan.
If it’s too complicated, no one will read it:
- What medications do you want or don’t want?
- Do you want skin-to-skin contact with baby right after delivery? Or do you want the staff to clean and check the baby first?
- Who should be in the room with you when you’re pushing (they usually only allow two people)
Your essentials list
- Crib and mattress
Don’t skimp on the mattress. Buy a reputable brand so your baby will be comfortable, and one that’ll last a long time too!
- One box of newborn diapers and one box of size 1 diapers
Since you don’t know how big your baby will be, get one box of each for now and stock up when you’re almost out. Try a few brands. Watch out for sales and never buy full price.
This, you’ll never have too much of. But again, test out different brands. I like Huggies better than Pampers, but Costco is the most commonly used and the best bang for your buck.
- Change pads (not the same as a changing table)
Waterproof pads are a savior for at home and when you’re out! I have four right now: two for the diaper bag and two for the nursery. There’ll be accidents!
- Nursing bras and comfortable sports bras
These are fine for nursing and sleeping. Unless you want to undo your bra at every feed, this is a must-have. Buy a larger size because your breasts will feel engorged. They don’t have wires so they’re extra comfortable. Motherhood Maternity has some great selections.
Load up! Bleeding can occur up to six weeks after delivery. Buy a box of the thick ones, and a box of the regulars and liners for when the bleeding starts decreasing.
- Lanolin cream
You can start applying this to your nipples a few weeks before your due date. You’ll be using this before showers and after feedings.
- Bigger sized clothing
Anything that touches your skin will be uncomfortable. Buy extra cotton underwear, wear your hubby’s shirts, and find some loose pants.
For swaddling, cut off tags and don’t get anything with heavy embroidering. Buy thick and light ones for different uses.
- Burp cloths
You can never have enough. These are for bathing, cleaning up spit, washing baby’s face, you name it. (Nina’s note: Forget the small cloths—go for diaper cloths.)
- Baby tub
Buy a simple $10 tub that’ll be good until your baby can sit up in the big tub.
- Baby soap and shampoo
Unless your baby has a lot of hair, don’t shampoo her head until hair starts coming in—doing so will dry her scalp. Live Clean is a terrific brand with no chemicals.
I had a hard time researching the right one for us. I needed it to double as a bassinet and useable until baby is a toddler. There are travel pack options where the stroller comes with a car seat. I’m not a huge fan of those because they’re bulky, so the one we have has a separate universal adapter option.
- Car seat
You can’t leave the hospital without one (a nurse will check to see if you put your baby in properly when you sign out). If your stroller doesn’t come with a car seat, be careful to get one you can use and fits well on your stroller. If you’re buying used or getting a hand-me-down, check the expiration date.
- Baby carrier
They always fall asleep in these! Handy for when you don’t want to lug the stroller and perfect for walks around the neighborhood. It even works for around the house when your arms needs a break.
- Diaper bag
Any large bag will do, really. I got a Coach one as a gift but any bag that’s easy to clean, wash or wipe is perfect. You’ll find that after the first few months you’ll be carrying less and less. Nowadays I use a Le Sportsac purse and it’s all I need.
- Diaper rash cream
Better to have this ready when you start seeing red spots on baby’s bum. Madeline is 2.5 and still gets it every now and then. Triple Paste Cream is the go-to brand that clears up rashes much quicker than the others.
- Night lights
Night time feedings work better when you can see where you’re going. Also, it’s good for the baby not to be in complete darkness.
- Dimmer switches
Install one in your nursery—this is a must. You want to control the lighting so baby isn’t woken up by bright lights with her eyelids are like paper. Imagine how you’d react to sudden bright lights!
- Breast pump
Buy or rent a Medela pump. I preferred a single pump as it was easier to use, but I know others (such as Nina) recommend a double to save on time. Don’t bother with manual pumps—choose an electric one instead. And get a hands-free pumping bra.
- Nursing pillow
This is a luxury for some but I needed one badly. I tried every pillow in the house but opted to splurge for a My Brest Friend. I tried the Jolly Jumper and it was useless to me. After using My Brest Friend I can’t nurse any other way, and the $60 felt like a steal. I used it everyday for 7 months! The cover comes off and washes safely in the machine.
- Nail clippers
Doesn’t have to be “baby” nail clippers, just your regular one is fine. Clean the clipper with rubbing alcohol in the beginning! While holding my baby Madeline, I placed her upper body on a pillow and used both hands to access her nails.
- Side table beside nursing chair
I use a stool with a flat surface because I couldn’t find any side tables I liked. Side tables come in handy to put little things like a tissue box, nursing pads, hair ties, lip balm, nail clipper, a clock to time feedings, water bottle if you’re thirsty and a burp cloth after feedings because milk is sticky!
- Body lotion
I like using Vaseline with aloe (the green bottles).
- Clock or watch
To time feedings and to ensure your baby is eating enough each time. If she’s fussy and pulls away from the breast, she may not be full if the usual feeding time isn’t up. She might just need to burp. Feedings can last between 5 to 45 minutes but you’ll know your baby’s schedule soon. If it’s night time, use a sports watch with a light.
- Garbage can with air freshener
Unless you get a Diaper Genie as a gift, you don’t need it. We bought a plastic trash can with a foot pedal and taped an air freshener to the lid—works wonders. Until your baby is on solids, her poop doesn’t smell that horrible. I suggest moving the pail to the bathroom once baby is on solids. You wouldn’t sleep with your poop in the bedroom. Every time we open the lid nowadays, it takes a while for the stench to disappear. Gross.
- Vitamin D drops
As recommended by doctors, newborns will need this extra vitamin until you’re done breastfeeding. (Or when your baby is a year old, because we don’t get as much sunlight during winter.)
During labor and your hospital stay
Ask as many questions as you can—don’t be afraid!
Take advantage of the doctors and nurses because once you get home, they’re not just a button call away! I asked a nurse to bring me waterproof pads every hour in the recovery room. She showed us how to swaddle and gave advice on breastfeeding positions.
You might not be able to eat before delivery, but hubby will be hungry. Bring dried foods like crackers, granola bars and apples. Labor is strenuous and you may not realize it right after delivery but you’ll be hungry! Ask family to bring sandwiches and juice boxes.
Pack your bag a few weeks before your due date
And write a list of things to bring so you won’t forget. Depending on how long your labor is, bring entertainment like magazines and books.
What to pack in your hospital bag:
- Wallet (including your insurance card and ID)
- Bigger sized clothing
- Baby clothes
- Glasses if you wear contacts
- Hair ties and hair brush
- Lip balm
- Here is a more thorough list of what to pack in your hospital bag
You are boss.
Family will no doubt want to help—let them! Everyone will be willing to help so give some orders. From the hospital, have someone help you and hubby carry your bags, pillow and gifts to your car. Have them wash dishes, do laundry, water the plants. Anything you won’t have time to do in the next few days.
It’ll be rough.
The first night at home was the worst I ever experienced. Baby has to get used to another change in environment so quickly! Your baby will cry like crazy—and it’s normal. After changing her, nurse her to sleep. If that doesn’t work, try rocking and singing… and take turns! You’ll both feel exhausted, so establish one to two hour shifts during the day.
Ask your mommy and daddy friends anything you’re unsure of.
I try my best to answer my friends’ questions, but if I don’t have the answer then someone else will! Mass text or email—no one will think you’re bothering them.
Your breasts will feel engorged a few days after delivery.
Don’t be afraid if lumps the size of golf balls appear under your armpits. They’ll disappear. If they hurt, try a warm shower or compress to ease the pain.
Your nipples will hurt when showering.
At least mine did. Use the lanolin cream before showering. You might leak milk too, so be careful when drying yourself off. Put that nursing bra and pads on right away to avoid taking another shower!
It’s okay to hibernate during the first month.
You’ll feel exhausted. The first few weeks will be tough but if you can survive that, you’ll cruise into the second month no problem. Don’t promise any visits too far in advance because everyday will be different. Your energy will depend on your unpredictable baby.
It’ll get better!
No matter how bad things get, keep this in mind: You waited nine long months to meet this bundle of joy and here she is! Whenever you want to cry, cry… just know you’re doing your best. You’ll get into the routine soon enough and you’ll be in absolute true love with your baby.
I hope this guide was helpful in preparing for the big day. Welcome to parenthood!
To help you organize and prepare for the baby, get my Baby Prep Workbook for tips and worksheets:
Based in Toronto, Canada, Queenie Best is a mom to a little girl and owner of Queenie’s Cards, featuring greeting cards and gifts. She has exhibited in the National Stationery Show in New York and appeared on City TV’s Breakfast Television morning show. Visit her shop and blog to see more.
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